Concrete Cleaning: The Complete Guide
Most of us take pride in our homes and want them to have great curb appeal.
Dingy concrete is one of those things you don't often think about, but actually, there are some simple techniques you can use to brighten it up and bring it back to life.
This guide will walk you step-by-step through the process of cleaning that dirty concrete up, and bringing beauty back to your home.
Importance of Concrete Cleaning
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of concrete cleaning we should mention there are actually some important reasons, other than looks, that might make you want to consider cleaning your concrete.
Getting these impurities cleaned off is important to the life of your concrete, which could be the difference between having to replace it in ten years, versus fifty.
Any surface discoloration can be a sign that something is eating away at your concrete.
Mold growth actually sends small tendrils down into your concrete, and over time can damage the surface, causing it to flake and pit.
Salt, either purposefully put down to help with ice or carried in off your automobiles from the street, can be a major contributor to damaged and pitted concrete.
Needed Equipment & Supplies
With the right equipment, you can clean an average size driveway in a few hours.
Power or Pressure Washer
The main piece of equipment you'll want is a power or pressure washer. And you'll need some kind of cleaner for those difficult spots and stains.
Pressure washers come in many shapes and sizes and are usually rated by PSI, which determines how powerful the spray is coming out of the nozzle. For the best cleaning of your concrete, we recommend a pressure washer of about 3500 PSI or more. Anything less than that and you'll really have to work to get the dirt and grime off your concrete.
You will only use water in your power washers, but we do recommend pre-treating stains with an appropriate cleaner. What solution you use will depend on the type of stain you have.
For oil stains, we often recommend Micro Clean from Arrow Magnolia. This is a powerful, environmentally-friendly cleaner. The downside is you typically have to purchase it in large quantities.
For rust stains, a mild acid-like vinegar might do the trick, but if the stain is large, or if it's been there for a while, a commercial acid cleaner might be in order.
Research to find the best product for your situation, but whichever you choose, be sure to protect your eyes and skin as these types of cleaners can cause serious damage.
Follow the directions on the product label, but for most products, you apply the solution to the stained area and work it in with a hard-bristled brush. Then let it sit for a while until it works its magic on the stain.
Following these steps can get you on the road to beautiful concrete again.
1. Prepare the concrete and surrounding area
With a broom, sweep off any loose debris and dirt. If you have doors or painted surfaces next to the concrete, you may want to mask them off with tape and heavy-duty plastic or tarps. This will prevent the power washer from removing any paint accidentally.
2. Pre-treat any stains
This may need to be done a day or two before you actually clean the concrete.
3. Configure the pressure washer
Most pressure washers come with several different tips. Choose the one specifically for cleaning concrete and hard surfaces. Attach your garden hose to the pressure washer and adjust the pressure gauge to its highest setting.
Caution: The high pressure can cause injury to your body. Be sure to wear proper foot coverings (hard shoes) to protect your feet.
4. Pressure wash the concrete
Beginning at the top of the slope, begin spraying the concrete using an overlapping pattern. It will probably take a few minutes to figure out how much time you need to spend on each section.
Basically, spray an area until you can no longer see the difference between strokes of the wand. Continue this pattern until the whole area is clean.
NOTE: You can also purchase or rent a round surface scrubber attachment. This allows you to clean a wider area in one pass. You still may need to go over it again with the wand, but it can speed up the cleaning process.
5. Seal the concrete
After thoroughly cleaning your concrete, it is a good idea to seal it against future dirt and stains.
That's all there is to it. If this isn't something you want to undertake yourself, many of our locations offer pressure washing and sealing as a service. Click below to submit an inquiry to your A-1 location.
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